Category: Equality

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Sickening news this morning that homeless figures have increased yet again to over 7000 (including 2500 children). When I raised it with the Minister – all we get is the same old platitudes which will mean the next figures will be another increase! We need the 50,000 empty homes in cities across Ireland to be taken over by the councils immediately, we need this government to stop relying on the private landlords to deliver social housing and we need an emergency programme to build council houses. In Dun Laoghaire last year there were only 54 actual council houses with permanent tenancies were built and meanwhile over 500 new applications were received by the council. This madness has to stop.

Richard_Boyd_BarrettIn the Dáil today, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, asked all the political parties and the Taoiseach to support the call by Not on our Watch for Ireland to take in 200 unaccompanied children from the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais and to relocate them amongst the 800 families who contacted the Irish Red Cross offering to take children from the Jungle camp.
Currently, the Jungle camp in Calais is being cleared and refugees are being ‘relocated’ to settlement centres in France. It is unknown what will happen to these refugees after they are processed in these centres. After the last wave of demolitions in Calais 200 children went missing. Children in Calais are currently in grave danger and it is essential that Ireland acts to help these children.
Ireland had previously committed to taking in 4,000 refugees and has also made a specific commitment in regard to unaccompanied children so this would be in line with Ireland’s existing commitment.

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2,159 women have been forced to travel to access abortion services since the government was elected

Precedent set for government parties to hold different positions – in 1983 to introduce 8th Amendment – Labour Tanaiste voted against Fine Gael Taoiseach

repeal-8Campaigners from AAA-PBP, the Abortion Rights Campaign, National Women’s Council,  Coalition to Repeal the 8th, USI, People Before Profit-Pro Choice, ROSA, USI and Doctors for Choice gathered at the Dail today in support of the AAA-PBP Repeal Bill which is due to be debated tomorrow.

The campaigners highlighted that since the government came to power 2,159 have been forced to travel abroad to access abortion services or have ordered abortion pills online. This is based on 9.45 women per day travelling to the UK, 0.032 women a day in Dutch clinics, and 3 women a day using abortion pills.

They called on the Independent Alliance not to allow Fine Gael to block a vote on the AAA-PBP Bill through the use of a technical counter motion.

Ruth Coppinger TD said “In light of Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran’s interview on Sean O’Rourke this morning, it seems as if Fine Gael is still trying to put pressure on the Independent Alliance to vote against the AAA-PBP Bill.

“They should maintain their principles and vote for it like they did 18 months ago. There is precedence for two parties in government to hold different positions on issues. In fact, 33 years ago when the 8th Amendment was introduced to the Dail by a Fine Gael/Labour government, the Labour Party had a free vote on it. This saw the Labour Tanaiste vote against the Fine Gael Taoiseach.

“Neither should they let Simon Harris implement his plan to block the AAA-PBP motion using a technical motion on standing orders.

 “Under Standing Order 148 the government can try to delay the Bill from proceeding through the Dail, or under subsection 2, before the Bill goes to a vote they can say that they’re not accepting it for a variety of reasons such as the existence of the Citizen’s Assembly, and refuse to vote on it. Women have waited 33 years already, they shouldn’t be forced to wait any longer.”

Brid Smith said: “Over 2000 women have been forced abroad or had to access abortion pills since this Government came into office. The Citizens’ Assembly will just mean more delays and more suffering for woman.

“This bill is a chance to right the wrongs that woman have suffered since the amendment was introduced in the 80s. It’s a chance to draw a line under the Ireland that forced woman abroad, that saw woman die and that refused to grant them bodily autonomy.

“Every opinion poll shows a majority in favour of repealing the 8th amendment. We can win a referendum.

“A new generation of woman have made it clear they will not accept the status quo. Ireland needs to change with them.”

People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, clashed with Minister Mary Mitchel O’Connor at a meeting of the Jobs and Enterprise Joint Committee on Thursday.

Deputy Smith rounded on the proposed 10 cent per hour increase in the minimum wage proposed by the Low Pay Commission calling it “embarrassing” and an “insult”. She also told the Minister that the area’s most given to low pay, such as retail and hospitality had experienced large increases in profitability and turnover in recent years, as highlighted by a minority report of the Low Pay Commission.

The minister was also asked to explain why the IDA was supporting companies such as Uber who have a record of usurping labour laws and worker’s rights across the globe. The Taxi App company are embroiled in court cases in a number of countries over their insistence that workers are not employees of their companies but “service suppliers”. As such the company is not bound by minimum wage rights or other labour laws.

Deputy Smith told Minister O’Connor that it was a disgrace that the state should in any way support a company renowned for trying to bypass workers’ rights legislation. She also questioned why the IDA was also providing support for other so called ”client” firms such a Coke Cola, Amazon and Credit Suisse and requested a detailed breakdown of what support the IDA was providing to these.

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Governemnts Direct Provision policy is driven by state racism claims PBP TD Bríd Smith

Brid-Smith-2a-241x300In a statement, People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, has said that Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s claim that there is no alternative to the system of Direct Provision marks her ‘abysmal failure to deal with the issue following years of inaction by her party Fine Gael in this area’.

Deputy Smith also pointed out that the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have labelled the system of Direct Provision in Ireland ‘a severe violation of Human Rights’.

This comes after former minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin had said previously that ‘the way we treat asylum seekers says a lot about us as a country’.

Deputy Smith said “These comments from the Minister for Justice are an affront to anyone who believes in equality and human rights.”

“The scandal that is direct provision will one day join the Magdalene laundries, and the abuse of children  in state and church run institutions as an example of our states contempt for the most marginalized and vulnerable. Minister Fitzgerald will be judged harshly by history just as are all those in power who failed to protect the past victims of institutional abuse”.

People Before Profit TD  calls for the restoration of all social welfare cuts as priority for Minister for Social Protection 
Reverse the discriminatory u26 Jobseekers rate
Brid-Smith-2a-241x300People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, has called on the government and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, to reverse all social welfare cuts and restore them to 2007 levels. Deputy Smith also called for the government to end the discriminatory u26s Jobseekers rate.
Recently, Minster Varadkar has put forward the idea of increasing social welfare payments to those with more PRSI contributions. People Before Profit believe that what should be done before this is the reversal of the cuts to social welfare that have inflicted massive damage on local communities. The lower rate of Jobseekers for people under the age of 26 is a matter that has to be urgently addressed by the Minister.

Currently people under the age of 26 receive a lower Jobseekers Allowance payment than that of people over the age of 25. People aged 26 and over on Jobseekers receive €188, whereas people ages 25 earn €144 and persons aged 18-24 earn €100 a week.

Deputy Smith said “for the best part of the last eight years successive governments have been using the excuse of the financial crisis in order to slash social welfare payments. Critically though they have targeted the youth. Young people who are looking to avail of Jobseekers are penalised because of their age.
“The government, in not reversing the cuts to social welfare and specifically age based discrimination in the Jobseekers payment, are demonstrating their contempt for young people.
“The government must now reverse the discrimination manifested in their policies towards young people, specifically in the Jobseekers Benefit payment, and restore the cuts to social welfare which are a net to prevent people falling into poverty.”

Pays tribute to the work of the Migrant Rights centre Ireland for their work opposing the Bill

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin spBrid Smith TD has said that she is delighted that a proposed Fianna Fail bill concerning Au Pairs has been rejected by the Dail in a vote this afternoon. Deputy Smith said that this Bill would have left vulnerable young migrant workers without any protection or access to the states Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Deputy Smith paid tribute to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their sterling work in opposing the Fianna Fail Bill.

Deputy Smith said “Our amendment to Fianna Fail’s ‘Au Pair Placement Bill’ urged TDs to allow workers continued access to the WRC to hear their grievances over low pay and long hours. There have also been reports of some of the worst examples of gross exploitation in the sector.”

Deputy Smith continued to say “the Au Pair Placement Bill is ill designed and could have had horrendous consequences for people working as Au Pairs as their work is already undervalued. This Bill talked about pocket money and light domestic duties; it doesn’t reflect the reality of domestic work today and seems instead to hark back to some idealised past of Au Pair work as something a student did as a rite of passage. 

“I Au paired myself when younger but an unintended consequence of this bill would be to remove protections and laws from the most vulnerable of workers. We have a child care crisis in this country which can’t be dealt with by legislating to allow people to import cheap child care dressed up as cultural exchange.

“The recent cases before the WRC give lie to that argument and exposed an industry which unfortunately is dominated by gross exploitation. We must stand against that.

“I would like to say well done to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland for their work on this matter. Migrant workers have rights too and as workers they should have equal access to the mechanisms of the Workplace Relations Commission.”

People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, has stated that the governments apparent view of people availing of social welfare is elitist and snobbish.

Gino Kenny election posterThis claim comes in a response to a parliamentary question, tabled by Deputy Kenny, asking if the Minister for Social Protection would reverse the lower Social Protection payment received by under 26s. Currently the maximum entitlement for someone aged 25 or younger is €144. This is compared to a maximum rare for those 26 and over as €188. People Before Profit view this as blatant discrimination based on age.

Deputy Kenny cited the language used by the Minister in the reply to the question as ‘elitist’ and ‘very concerning as it highlights how this government views those on welfare and under the age of 26’.

In the Ministers answer it says ‘To guard against welfare dependency I believe it is necessary to provide young jobseekers with a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training or to take up employment’.

Responding to this answer Deputy Kenny said: “This answer provides a clear insight as to how this government views young people who have to avail of social welfare. It is clear from the elitist snobbery provided in the form of an answer to my question that Minister Varadkar looks down on people on social welfare. Let’s be clear, people want to work. The economic saboteurs like the banks and bondholders that this government and those of the past have prioritised over ordinary people are the people that have removed the jobs that can support basic living standards in this country.

“The insinuation of the Ministers answer is that these people have to be forced to ‘get off’ social welfare as if social supports were like a drug. The Minister clearly assumes that people want to be on social welfare. This is of course contrary to evidence based research. For example, when the CE schemes were available lone parents took up these roles. When these schemes were taken away, along with changes to the one parent family payment, lone parent employment went down from 60% to 36%.

“Seeing as Ireland ranks just above the US in terms of social welfare benefits and we are one of the lowest rates in Europe I would ask the Minister again to reverse the discriminatory reduced rate on social welfare benefits received by under 26s.”